Thursday, March 8, 2012

Texas Hill Country Winds Challenge Am Tour Players

Horseshoe Bay, TX (March 4, 2012)Horseshoe Bay Resort, situated just west of Historic Marble Falls, TX  in the highland lakes region of the Texas Hill Country, hosted the 2012 Texas Open Major Championship for the second year.

Apple Rock and Ram Rock, two of the three Robert Trent Jones, Sr. courses on the property overlooking Lake LBJ, would not disappoint the traveling competitors in search of prizes and National Championship qualification.  Just like 2011, beautiful skies and warm south winds were on hand for the practice rounds on Friday only to change direction from the north on opening day, cooling off the players and changing strategies.  As quickly as the winds and temperatures changed for Saturday, light SW breezes and sunshine welcomed the final round.

Championship Flight:  Starting the round on Sunday two strokes behind overnight leader, Al Smith from Cabot, AR, defending Texas Open Champion Marshall Morgan knew he needed a strong start.  Morgan from Odessa, TX would need to make up ground on Smith, but also stay ahead of Jeff Boyer  from Oklahoma City starting the day just one stroke back.  Coming off the 14th green, Morgan looked to have it locked up going +1 against Al's +5 but the remaining four holes would set the stage for the first playoff of the afternoon when they both finished with 155 two day totals.  On the first playoff hole, the 58 year old Morgan successfully defended his title with the long hitting Smith picking up his best Major Championship finish while Boyer picked up the final National Championship qualification finishing third.

Palmer Flight: Consistency would prove to be the key to the championship for Keller, TX player Guy Nickels.   Nickels, the 2010 Texas Masters at TPC San Antonio Champion has now won his last four outings with the Am Tour.  Starting the final round 8 strokes back of overnight leader Ivan Zweig from Dallas, Guy followed up his first day 81 with an 82 on the arguably tougher Ram Rock course to snatch the championship by three strokes over Zweig.  Ivan would hole out from the fairway on the 10th hole for an eagle two but couldn't control any momentum.  2012 Duel in the Desert Flight Champion, Ron Finnerty from Laredo, TX would start and finish the final round in the third spot punching his ticket for the second time this year to the Nationals.

Senior Palmer Flight:  It was traveling Phoenix, AZ player Richard Hunt's tournament to lose after firing an eight over par 79 Saturday at the tough and windblown Ram Rock course.  In the final pairing, Sean Fenton from Fort Worth along with Garland, TX player Kem Albritton were six strokes back to start the day and both mounted a charge. but in the end couldn't make up the deficit.  Albritton and Fenton finished tied for the second spot two strokes back. Hunt, the 2010 WESTERN OPEN  champion made it his second Major championship and thirteenth win on the tour.

Hogan Flight:  Brack Blackwood from Grandbury, TX completed the first half of the events "father / son" tandem championship.  Blackwood, the overnight leader, got into trouble in the middle of his round but finished the last five holes in one over par to grab the championship by 6 strokes over Roger Masek of Sugerland, TX.  Masek took seven strokes off his first round finish ahead of consistent scores from Auburn, WA player Barry Lauderbaugh.  Lauderbaugh's best finish in a major championship punched his ticket to the National Championships by two strokes over fourth spot.

Senior Hogan Flight:  Out of State travelers take the top two spots in the Senior Hogan Flight with William Wirtz from Maryland Heights, MO claiming the trophy and his best finish in a Major.  Two strokes back, overnight leader Gary Spears from Brighton, CO, had enough of a lead going into the final round to stay ahead of Maurice Mintken from Round Rock, TX and Cypress, TX player Bob Miller bettering his score from Saturday to tie for the final National Championship qualification spots.  

Sarazen  Flight:  Oklahoma Tour player Jeffrey Banner from Lawton went wire to wire for his second win on tour.  Starting on the eleventh hole at Ram Rock, Banner played steady through the early going but would run into big trouble towards the late portion of his round.  Playing along side Banner in the final pairing Derrick Matthews from Kileen, TX bounced back after a first hole disaster to put pressure on Banner, but just fell short taking the second spot over Westfield, IN traveler Jon Wendt by three strokes.

Senior Sarazen Flight:  Battling back and forth the entire round, overnight leader Jamie Sansom from Frisco, TX looked to have it locked up coming to the final hole over Mark Kirby of Bridge City, TX.  A two shot swing on the last would put the pair in a playoff where Kirby maintained the momentum and captured the championship.  San Felipe, TX member Jim Craig took twelve strokes of his first day total with three birdies and landed the final National Championship qualification by a couple of strokes over the fourth spot.

Jones Flight:  Katy, TX ace Richard Kelley captured his first win on tour by a whopping 16 strokes over two players knotted in the second spot.  Scott Thompson from Helotes, TX playing in his third event on tour birdied the par four ninth hole to tie up the second spot with Keller, TX player Nick Easen.

Senior Jones Flight:  Randy Adcock from Vidor, TX knows how to win the Texas Open making it a three-peat.  Adcock the 2010 National Champion won the first major at the 2010 Texas Open MAJOR at Barton Creek  and successfully defended his championship last year at Horsehoe Bay.  Ron Hardy took thirteen strokes off his day one total with birdies on the third and seventh holes to finish in a tie for second with Bob Eustice from Garland, TX playing in his first Major Championship.

Snead Flight:  The back half of the father / son Championship, David Blackwood playing out of the Hill Country Tour finished the final round strokes ahead of Jason Crawford from Round Rock. Crawford, playing a limited schedule recorded his best finish on tour bested a pair from San Antonio, overnight leader Xavier Bardy and Carlos Cruz who shared the third and final qualification spot for the Nationals.

Senior Snead Flight:   Timothy Thayer from  Cypress, TX and Pflugerville, TX member Thomas Kerwin took it to extra holes.  Thayer finished off his Championship run picking up the trophy and first win since 2010.   It was Kerwin's best finish in a Major in six attempts.  Rounding out the top three, The Woodlands, TX player Jim Lamberth grabbed his National Championship invitation in his first major event.

Texas Open players put the "Troops First" this weekend raising over $1,600 for the Troops First Foundation.

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